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Laryngitis

Find advice and treatment for Laryngitis here.

Laryngitis

Laryngitis is when your voice box or vocal cords in the throat become irritated or swollen. It usually self-limiting and goes away by itself within 1 to 2 weeks.
Man with sore throat

Check if you have laryngitis

Laryngitis usually comes on suddenly and gets worse during the first 3 days.

The main symptoms are:

a hoarse (croaky) voice
sometimes losing your voice
an irritating cough that does not go away
always needing to clear your throat
a sore throat

Children can also:

have a high temperature of 38C or above
be off their food or drink
have difficulty breathing (but this is rare)

Laryngitis is often linked to other illnesses, such as colds and flu, so you may also have other symptoms.

How you can treat laryngitis yourself

Laryngitis is usually self-limiting, it goes away on its own after 1 to 2 weeks so you wouldn’t usually need to see a practitioner.

Do

try to speak as little as possible
drink plenty of fluids
keep the air moist by putting out bowls of water – central heating and air conditioning make the air dry
gargle with warm salty water (children should not try this)

Don't

do not strain your voice by talking loudly or whisper
do not smoke
do not spend time in smoky or dusty places
do not drink too much caffeine or alcohol since they cause dehydration

A pharmacist can help with laryngitis

They can give advice and suggest treatments, including:

paracetamol or ibuprofen
cough syrup to help with your cough
solutions to gargle or lozenges for the pain

See a healthcare practitioner if:

your symptoms do not improve after 2 weeks
it's very painful or it's difficult to swallow
you keep getting laryngitis or voice problems

What happens at your appointment

He or she will try to work out what has caused your laryngitis.

They may:

look inside your throat using a small mirror
wipe a cotton bud around the back of your throat for testing
arrange a blood test
refer you to an ear, throat and nose specialist (if you keep getting laryngitis)
If your laryngitis is caused by an infection, prescribe antibiotics.

What causes laryngitis

Laryngitis usually happens when you have an infection from a virus, such as cold or flu. A flu vaccination will help prevent you from getting the flu.

Other things that cause laryngitis include:

allergies to things like dust and fumes
acid from your stomach coming up your throat (acid reflux)
coughing over a long time
clearing your throat all the time